Paul Pierce says Jayson Tatum will be one of the "great players" in Celtics history

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Five

The Boston Celtics may be without All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward in the playoffs but their absence has allowed rookie Jayson Tatum to step up and take a lead role.

The 20-year-old has been terrific in this postseason and has played a major part in getting his team to the Eastern Conference Finals.

After the Celtics surrendered a 2-0 lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Tatum produced a memorable performance in a highly-pressurised Game 5 on Wednesday night as a 96-83 win allowed the C's to reclaim the advantage and go up 3-2 in the series.

He posted 24 points, seven rebounds and four assists and is one win away from competing in the NBA Finals in his first year in the league.

Nobody thought this was possible for Boston with two of their star players out but the Duke product has taken on the responsibility offensively and hasn't been fazed by the big stage.

He leads the team in scoring with 18.4 points per game in the playoffs and his performances have drawn huge praise from franchise legend Paul Pierce.

Pierce believes the young small forward can emulate him and become a true Celtics great.

"I think he's going to be one of the great players in Celtic history," he said, per Steve Bulpett of The Boston Globe.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Five

Tatum is a finalist for the Rookie of the Year award but Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons is the favourite to win the honour.

Pierce contrasted the postseason displays of the two players and pointed to how Tatum has been able to deal with it better than the Aussie, who struggled when they faced off against each other in the second round.

"It looked like [the] moment was too big for [Simmons]," he said. "He was wide-eyed out there. He looked confused.

Philadelphia 76ers v Boston Celtics - Game Two

"He's an ultra talent, but some players are made for the regular season and some are built for the playoffs and Tatum is obviously built for the playoffs.

"He's not going to have the stats that these other guys like Donovan Mitchell have and Simmons, but you can tell he was made for the playoffs. He thrives in the playoffs."

The number three overall pick will have an opportunity to further endear himself to Boston's fans if he helps them overcome the Cavs in Game 6 tonight to advance to the finals for the first time since 2010.

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